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March 2011
Flimsy Enclosures

Snow is piled about a foot high on my deck. The view out is blurred by the plastic covering the window in an attempt to keep the drafts out and the heating bill down. Six-foot drifts block the line of sight pulling out of the driveway and street corners. We’re enclosed by winter.

No better time than the present to catch up on my filing. I pull out a clip from the OCHEC Informer, dated Summer 2008. (Yes, I am that far behind!) There’s a picture of an impressive, graceful impala with the following caption: “The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet.”

While that’s a somewhat interesting bit of trivia, it’s not worth saving…at least not in my book (file). What caught my attention was the sidebar next to it: “Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a three-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall.”

Beneath the sidebar is a quote from John Emmons: “Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us.”

My mind starts to wander (that’s more fun that filing). What enclosures have I allowed to entrap me? Reviewing my mental list, I have to admit that most are pretty flimsy, at least in light of God’s faithfulness.

It strikes me that we can allow certain educational trends to become fence posts that threaten to enclose our home education. Standards. Testing. Transcripts. Credits. Grades. Extracurricular activities. Scope and sequences. Sometimes we can feel as if we’re in the midst of a tug of war, trying to balance our calling to provide a unique education tailored to our child’s God-given design with the structures of public education. I know I felt this way particularly during the high school years, while trying to prepare my children for college and beyond.

It’s because we’re trying to plan for something we cannot yet see. We’re trying to guess where the feet of our young adults will land. And that requires faith. The devotional I am reading by Tony Evans “just happens” to deal with faith this month. Tony writes: “Trust in God is not a static statement. It is active obedience. That’s why you don’t know the stuff your faith is made of until it’s tested.”

One such test for many homeschoolers is how much we are going to trust God to show us how to prepare and train our children and how much we are going to rely on the enclosures of educational expectations, systems, and programs. Those enclosures are easier to see and give us a sense of comfort, knowing they are there.

But is that a false sense of comfort? Could they be keeping us entrapped in the zoo of academic incompetency and animal-like, behavioral culture? Are standards, testing, and educational procedures becoming flimsy enclosures that keep our children from jumping to new heights and covering greater distances? Are we settling for false security out of fear? Lord, help our faith.

Image Credits: © Riaan van den Berg -
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